One of the wonders of working in an institution with such diverse collections as we have at Leeds is the way that unexpected links can be made between the unlikeliest parts of our collection.
Amongst some papers we recently collected relating to Leeds’ famous Suffragette heroine Leonora Cohen was a small newspaper cutting titled: “”MOK” A Vegetarian the Only Male Gorilla left”
This is a letter from Frank Wyatt of the London Vegetarian Society about the death of “Mok” the Gorilla in London Zoo from chronic kidney disease after being fed on “a weekly ration of beef steak and chicken” whilst the vegetarian gorilla, Alfred, at Bristol Zoo was still doing well. There is a note on back from Leonora Cohen which notes “My visit to the London Zoo to see Mok and Maria and read the diet sheet on the side of their cage”.
Leonora was a passionate vegetarian and lived to be 105 (the photograph on the left is from her 100th birthday)! Poor Mok lived to a less ripe age but has achieved imortality of a kind as one of the museum’s favourite objects, studied by many generations of Leeds schoolchildren.